Community Kickstarter: Ger District Viewing Deck
Mongolia
image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
finalist 2021
Location:
Mongolia
Category:
meeting place
Phase:
construction preparation
Updated:
30 September 2021
There is no word for “community” in Mongolian. The project is to kickstart the process of community building by creating a viewing deck and neighborhood resource in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar: settlements that lack infrastructure, decent homes, or any social gathering spaces. The project reveals the history of the city and future challenges it will face and creates spaces for the community to develop. 
follow
share on:mail linkcopy link to clipboardShare via LinkedInShare via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via Facebook
Introduction
The ger districts of Ulaanbaatar are home to 850,000 people and 60% of the city’s population, yet residents have no access to basic infrastructure: sewage, running water or district heating. They are under resourced in terms of community spaces, kindergartens, and indoor play areas. With temperatures dropping to -40°C in the winter, people remain stuck in their homes, usually a 25m2 ger shared by 4-7 family members.  There is an urgent need for sustainable community spaces that can offer a variety of activities based on different ages and needs.
 
Twenty years ago, Ulzii Sodnomsenge founded Green Lake by creating a small lake in an abandoned quarry. People can rent boats in the summer and ice-skate during winter. Over time he has built additional facilities such as a centre for borrowing books, conducting music lessons and group meetings.  It is a positive example of a local initiative that has strong social impact in strengthening community relationships and educating visitors, however it is becoming economically unsustainable to maintain.  

The project seeks to harness Green Lake as a model community resource by providing facilities that can attract tourists, generate income through sales of refreshments and local crafts, and provide additional spaces for the community. The project can enable Green Lake to become more financially sustainable and become a destination for visitors to experience a unique perspective of the ger districts and learn about issues facing residents. 
Visualization of the Viewing Deck and the view across the ger districts

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Impact
The project is designed to deliver short-term and long-term impact. In the first phase, the architectural initiative of the viewing deck attracts visitors. Refreshments and crafts made by residents can also be sold benefitting local people and assisting the community partner, Green Lake, in operation costs. Over time, a ger home-stay can be added to offer overnight accommodation to create new income streams.  In the next phase, a much-needed kindergarten can be integrated into the ring, whilst doubling as a community meeting space for after school clubs, educational events, elderly clubs and vocational workshops. 

The project strengthens the relationship between Green Lake and GerHub NGO. GerHub will run programs focused on capacity building for local residents such as workshops on home improvements to reduce heat loss, vocational training and educational activities, and creative play workshops for children.  This can build the long-term capacity of the entire district to act as a community by working together to solve common problems and to target future improvements. This could include, the improvement of stairs and paths, tree-planting, neighbourhood greenhouse construction and more sustainable toilets. 

Additional visitors will experience a unique perspective of Ulaanbaatar that reveals the entire history of the city: from the countryside to the soviet linear city, from the ger districts to the towers of the short-lived economic boom, and the expansion of the ger districts and challenges that will face the city in the future.
sdgs
Core team
Rural Urban Framework (RUF), is the lead architect for the project.  RUF is a design and research lab based within the Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong.  We have been working in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia since 2014, to conduct research, lead student workshops, and implement built projects to develop a more agile, incremental, and sustainable development solution for the ger districts.  

Gerhub is a local NGO, founded in 2016 to find innovative solutions for the ger districts.  They are experienced in collaborating with international stakeholders on both built and program based projects.

RUF first connected with their chairman in 2014, and since then developed multiple projects with them.  Most recently is the Ger Innovation Hub (GIH), a community centre in the ger districts.  The GIH will be managed and programmed by Gerhub with involvement from the local leaders.  This project demonstrates our expertise in bringing together and creating knowledge exchange between multiple stakeholders including local NGOs, students, private organizations, local factories and manufacturers, as well as carpenters. 

Our community partner, Ulzii Sodnomsenge started Green Lake (Nogoon Nuur Park) in 2012, and by 2016, it has become a key example of a community project.  Ulzii owns the land where the project is based, and is very well trusted and established in the local community.  He is able to bring on the ground knowledge and connections to local builders, as well having the capacity to help manage on site activities.
Visualization of the Viewing Deck above the quarry

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Image gallery
Green Lake in an abandoned quarry, in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Visualization of Phase 1 of the Viewing Deck

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Visualization of Phase 2 of the Viewing Deck

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Development model of the Viewing Deck

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Structural model of the Viewing Deck

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
View towards the Bogd Khan Mountain from the top of Green Lake

image: Rural Urban Framework | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
i
View towards the city center of Ulaanbaatar from the top of Green Lake

image: Rural Urban Framework | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
i
Green Lake within the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

image: Rural Urban Framework | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
i
Existing community space at Green Lake

image: Rural Urban Framework | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
i
Technical drawings
Site Plan

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Phase 1 Plan

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Phase 2 Plan

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Section

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Structural Plan

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Truss Sections

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Typical Fragment Detail

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Construction Sequence

image: Rural Urban Framework | © all rights reserved
i
Help bring our project to life!

There are no updates yet.

Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
Through our previous collaborations, we have developed a team and a way of working that can design a project and deliver a project.  With Gerhub, we have implemented a community centre and established guidelines and criteria for the design of community spaces in the ger districts. Building upon these experiences, we began this project in 2020.  

We have identified a site at GreenLake, established the team, and designed a viewing deck that has the capacity to transform into a kindergarten and community meeting and information centre at a later date.  Detailed drawings were produced, and initial costs estimated by a potential contractor.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
64% funding already raised
90% expertise already found
Finance: € 7,000
We are seeking funds to contribute to the construction of the viewing deck as the first phase to turn GreenLake into a sustainable community resource.  The viewing deck, Ovoo, is located at the top of the quarry.  In traditional Mongolian culture, Ovoo refers to a pile of sacred stones typically found on top of mountains.  As a circular ring, the viewing deck references the traditional ritual of spiralling around the summit of a mountain, allowing visitors a 360° panorama of the entire city.  In the second phase, a much-needed kindergarten and community information centre, where visitors can learn about the history of the city, can be integrated into the ring.   
  • Construction Labour
4,000
  • Construction Material
3,000
Skills: Planning & Management
We are seeking advisors to help develop and implement a sustainable business model for the viewing deck to help sustain the existing GreenLake community space.

Even though the tourist sector revenue increase by 10% between 2018 and 2019 to USD$284.1 million, very few of the 577,300 visitors that visit the city in summer will visit the ger districts.  There is potential to direct some of that revenue towards the residents in the ger districts.  This project needs advisors with the knowledge to help identify opportunities for sustainable tourism in the ger districts that can become income streams for the community resource as well as local residents to optimize the impact of the project.
Help bring our project to life!
Location
show earth plate boundarieshide earth plate boundaries